Huckabee Tries To “Out Tancredo Tancredo” On Illegal Immigration

I’ve been lukewarm to Mike Huckabee as a candidate and have even ranked him as the single worst GOP candidate on illegal immigration, but I have to admit that I like his new immigration plan. Here are all 9 points with my comments after each point where it’s appropriate,

1. Build the Fence. Ensure that an interlocking surveillance camera system is installed along the border by July 1, 2010. Ensure that the border fence construction is completed by July 1, 2010. (If the fence is done quickly, I will be amazed and pleasantly surprised.)

2. Increase Border Patrol. Increase the number of border patrol agents. Fully support all law enforcement personnel tasked with enforcing immigration law.

3. Prevent Amnesty. Policies that promote or tolerate amnesty will be rejected. Propose to provide all illegal immigrants a 120-day window to register with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services and leave the country. Those who register and return to their home country will face no penalty if they later apply to immigrate or visit; those who do not return home will be, when caught, barred from future reentry for a period of 10 years. (I never believe anyone who says that they’re against amnesty unless they get specific. In this case, what Huckabee has said qualifies as getting specific. He would have a hard time backing down from this if he actually got into office).

4. Enforce the Law on Employers. Employment is the chief draw for most illegal immigrants and denying them jobs is the centerpiece of an attrition strategy. Impose steep fines and penalties on employers that violate the law. Institute a universal, mandatory citizenship verification system as part of the normal hiring process. Prevent the IRS and the Social Security Administration from accepting fraudulent Social Security numbers or numbers that don’t match the employees’ names.* (This is the single biggest key to stopping illegal immigration so it’s nice to see Huckabee calling it the, “centerpiece of an attrition strategy.”

5. Establish an Economic Border. Move toward passage of the FairTax. The FairTax provides an extra layer of security by creating an economic disincentive to immigrate to the U.S. illegally. (I like the FairTax, but the FairTax would probably take 70 Republican Senators to pass at the moment, so it’s hard to get too excited about it.)

6. Empower Local Authorities. Promote better cooperation on enforcement by supporting legislative measures such as the CLEAR Act, which aims to systematize the relationship between local law and federal immigration officials. Encourage immigration-law training for police. Local authorities must be provided the tools, training, and funding they need so local police can turn illegal immigrants over to the federal authorities.

7. Ensure Document Security. End exemptions for Mexicans and Canadians to the US-VISIT program, which tracks the arrival and departure of foreign visitors. Since these countries account for the vast majority of foreigners coming here (85 percent), such a policy clearly violates Congress’ intent in mandating this check-in/check-out system. Reject Mexico’s “matricula consular” card, which functions as an illegal-immigrant identification card.

8. Discourage Dual Citizenship. Inform foreign governments when their former citizens become naturalized U.S. citizens. Impose civil and/or criminal penalties on American citizens who illegitimately use their dual status (e.g., using a foreign passport, voting in elections in both a foreign country and the U.S.). (It’s about time that we started going this)

9. Modernize the Process of Legal Immigration. Eliminate the visa lottery system and the admission category for adult brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens. Increase visas for highly-skilled and highly-educated applicants. Expedite processing for those who serve honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Improve our immigration process so that those patiently and responsibly seeking to come here legally will not have to wait decades to share in the American dream. Governor Huckabee has always been grateful to live in a country that people are trying to break into, rather than break out of. (Again, this is something that is long overdue and much needed. It’s nuts to building a system that gives preference to unskilled workers over highly skilled workers and illegal aliens over people who come here legally. The system we currently have is not only unfair to US Citizens, it’s unfair to the foreigners who love this country, play by the rules, and want to become Americans.)

*This policy will be drafted to comply with the final federal court decisions on this issue.

Note: This plan is partially modeled on a proposal by Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies. (“Re: Immigration: Ten Points for a Successful Presidential Candidate,” National Review, May 23, 2005.)

Is this a perfect policy? No. I’d like to see him address anchor babies, talk about exit Visas, and have the plan condemn sanctuary cities.

That being said, we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Overall, this is an excellent, very specific plan, and it’s very encouraging that Mike Huckabee, a guy without a particularly tough record on illegal immigration, has put this out.

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